The county has imposed a nine percent pay cut on more than four thousand county workers in the Service Employees International Union (S.E.I.U.). The union represents most county non-management workers janitors , clerks, librarians social workers their pay ranges from $20,000 to $60,000 per year.
The county's action comes even though the union thought they were still negotiating.
The Fresno County Supervisors heard from dozens of county workers who said the pay cuts will impose a real hardship.
"My husband has cancer, and our health insurance is going up," said Hermione Gitron.
Shandona Kelso said, "I am a mother of three children with a husband who was laid off a year and a half ago."
Elia Morales added, "This is really gonna hurt if you go ahead and do this."
But a three member majority of the board felt the cuts were part of the shared sacrifice needed to get through these tough times. County Supervisor Phil Larson claimed he's done his share. "I denied three pay raises sent them back, next year I took a ten percent voluntary cut and this year I took a 7 percent cut."
But with Chairman Larson's pay scale at $120 thousand a year, workers who's pay ranges from 20 to 60 thousand a year thought his sacrifice was not equitable.
County employee Diana Calderon countered, "When you compare what we are earning what we actually take home to what you guys are grossing, or anybody in upper management is grossing, that's apples and oranges."
Supervisors Henry Perea and Susan Anderson sided with the workers.
"What I feel is we've had a real lack of honest and honorable effort to work with our employees to resolve real issues that we could resolve together if we really tried and that's why I will not support this vote," said Fresno County Supervisor Susan Anderson.
But with Larson and supervisors Debbie Poochigian and Judy Case in the majority, the measure imposing the cuts passed.
Union leaders say its unfair because their members haven't had a chance to vote on the county's last offer. They still plan to vote on December 17th, and then see if the county is willing to resume negotiations. If not, they say a strike involving most of the county's employees is possible.
Most of the county's 2,000 other employees have already negotiated pay cuts. The county supervisors have all accepted 7 percent pay cuts this year. They passed a resolution today asking the county's six other elected officials to reject a three percent raise they've already been promised.